175 years of Case IH

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The celebrations have commenced at the brand’s global headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin, US, says Joe Spencer.

175 years of Case IH
With models now ranging up to 285kW, the Magnum is one of the most recognisable Case IH products, with more than 150 000 sold to date.
Photo: Case IH

Jerome Increase Case established the Racine Threshing Machine Works on the shores of the Root River near Racine, Wisconsin, in 1842, and went on to produce a revolutionary machine that, after the harvest, separated the grain from straw.

According to current Case IH brand president, Andreas Klauser, quality was always a priority for Jerome Case, and even in his later years he would travel far and wide to check product releases.

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He was in the right place at the time; the US was expanding as pioneers moved westwards
and established new farms. A labour shortage after the American Civil War (1861- 1865) saw more farmers considering mechanisation.

In 1869, Case built his first portable steam engine. Mounted on wheels and drawn by horses, it powered other machines such as threshers. Case’s first self-propelled steam traction engine followed in 1876, and ten years later, the JI Case Threshing Machine Company was the world’s largest producer of steam engines.

Jerome Case died in Racine in December 1891, aged 72.

In 1902, five companies merged to form International Harvester (IH) in Chicago. IH produced its first combine harvester in 1915 and in 1923 introduced the Farmall, the world’s first row-crop tractor.

One of Jerome Case’s early threshers.
One of Jerome Case’s early threshers. Before he started building his own machines, Case worked as a contractor, threshing his neighbours’ crops with the horse-powered ‘ground hog’ machines that his father sold.

The cultivator was mounted in front where it was easily visible, and the front tyres were spaced close together and canted inwards towards the bottom. The rear wheels straddled two rows, enabling it to cultivate four rows at a time.

It was safe and reliable and increased productivity. IH sold more than five million Farmall tractors.

The mightiest of all
In 1985, Case IH was formed. Its first product, the Magnum tractor, with models rated from 120kW to 180kW, was introduced in 1987, and nine years later, the Quadtrac was launched.

The range currently includes the most powerful series production tractor in the world: the Steiger Quadtrac 620, which delivers up to 519kW.

“I find it amazing to see just how far the farming industry and our company have come during the past 175 years,” says Klauser. “The common theme, which has always guided our innovative approach, is to provide ever-improving technology to customers, enabling them to farm more efficiently.”

“The common theme, which has always guided our innovative approach, is to provide ever-improving technology to customers, enabling them to farm more efficiently.”

Joe Spencer is the mechanisation editor of Farmer’s Weekly.